VAN -- The Wills Point Tigers built a nice lead, then need relief help to close it out.

Wills Point beat Winona 6-4 in the first game of their doubleheader in the I-20 Baseball Classic on Friday.

Lonnie Carroll went six strong, surrendering one run on four hits, while striking out seven. Teammate Cody Simmons struck out Winona's Ben Brundidge for the game's final out and the save.

"I was really glad to get out of the game with a win," said first-year Wills Point coach Tommy Sparks. "We swung the bats pretty well, but we stranded 11 or 12 runners on base. It almost came back to bite us. Luckily, we pulled it out."

Carroll helped his own cause by going 1-for-3 at the plate with a triple and three RBIs, while Coy Wilson added a pair of singles.

Wills Point broke open a 1-1 game when A.J. Marble and Case Harper had consecutive RBI singles in the three-run fourth inning that pushed Wills Point's lead to 5-1.

After Carroll added an RBI in the top of the seventh, Winona plated three runs in the bottom of the seventh to get within two. But the Simmons strikeout finished off the Wildcats.

Winona third baseman Austin Makowsky went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Casey Campbell added two singles. Campbell gave up five runs (four unearned) on eight hits in the complete-game loss.

Wills Point 3, Van 3

Van coach Jerami Hawkins had something up his sleeve before the game. He just needed an opportunity to use it.

That opportunity came in the bottom of the sixth with runners on first and third. Van pulled off a double steal as Mason Hassell scored the game-tying run.

That's how it ended as both coaches had a "gentleman's agreement" to end it after seven innings, as the Van Vandals and Wills Point Tigers played to a 3-3 tie.

"My assistant and I had talked earlier in the game about it," said Hawkins. "We hadn't put it on yet because we didn't want show it. Mineola (district opponent) was over here scouting us, but we really wanted to beat Bushnell (Wills Point starting pitcher). They called a timeout, which alllowed us to set it up good and execute it the way we needed to, and it worked out."

It overshadowed a great pitching performance by the Tigers' lefty Brett Bushnell. The 6-foot-7 Louisiana Tech signee went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits, while striking out seven.

Wills Point got the scoring started with a couple of runs in the first inning off a passed ball and a throwing error at first base. Van answered when Hassell drove in a run in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI single. Hassell led the Vandals, going 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

Wills Point pushed across another run in the third.

Van scored the final two runs during its rally in the bottom of the sixth. Mason Neal's RBI on a groundout scored one, which was followed by the double steal by Cassell and pitcher Jacob Wyrick. Wyrick pitched five innings, giving up three runs (one earned) on five hits with six strikeouts.

"We had two goals starting the year; beat a ranked a opponent, which we did yesterday beating Bullard (No. 18 in Class 3A)," Hawkins said. "And the other was to win a tournament. And with White Oak pulling out, (Saturday) is our chance."


I-20 Baseball Classic

At Van High School

Wills Point 6, Winona 4

Wills Point          010    310    1    --    6    8    1
Winona              001    000    3    --    4    6    3
WP -- Carroll
LP -- Campbell
S -- Simmons

3B -- WP: Carroll

Wills Point 3, Van 3

Wills Point          201    000    0    --    3    6    0
Van                   100    002    0    --    3    5    2

2B -- WP: Bushnell. Van: Matt Savis.
3B -- Van: Reid Hiler.